Thursday, June 26, 2014

Agenda review June 25

On another post Anonymous wrote:

new topic please- June 25th Board Meeting- thoughts?
There didn't seem to be as much chatter of bad things coming out of Westinghouse this year-- much more about Perry--so where will the 3 year contracted Westinghouse principal go now?
So ECS gets Letsche (not ours anymore) Propel gets Columbus and Burgwin
The "scoundrel" Aquino gets to talk to the new Asst. Supers and principals 4 times this year-not on our dime, but not helping either
Lost head of technology-again keeping us way behind other districts without a unified plan-- try taking any course this summer that involves technology and you will see we are back at the 10 years behind
Anything else happen that doesnt help the students of Pittsburgh at all? 


Anonymous said...

It is interesting that Lane declined to comment further on Herring's (Westinghouse) situation. They closed his position so will he get paid for the remaining years of his contract? Will he sue? Looks like another mistake and more money down the drain.

How will the Allderdice and Obama principals run their schools AND be assist. superintendents?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see VanHorn go. Seems like there aren't many "real" principals left. Does anyone know what principals are left who aren't PELAS?

Why does such a small district need so many assistant superintendents? And principal on special assignment-office of equity? Seems like they are just inventing jobs for people.

I can't believe they can justify that number of asst. supers as well as keeping Lane around when there is NO PROGRESS being made. We have gone backwards. Any gains made and effective teaching that occurred, happened in spite of, not because of, these central office clowns. Yet they get bonuses as teachers get fired based off the same test data!! Somebody explain that.

Anonymous said...

Who left in Technology?

Anonymous said...

Check out the salaries for PPS central office.

Anonymous said...

It is well known and talked about in neighboring districts that pps is top heavy in admin. We are beginning to look______________. Don't want to finish the thought since I don't want to be the most negative parent in the room.

Anonymous said...

I would disagree and say that once again, Mr.Brentley made a log, impassioned speech about the state of Westinghouse. It would seem clear that he believe that yet another lost year is coming to the students at the school and that truly it is something which disturbs him.
The plethora of assistant superintendents is also troubling and the idea was not lost on Dr.Holley. Yeah, in an era which has numerous teachers, support staff and custodial staff being laid off, it's funny to me that these kinds of people will likely make upwards of $140K this year.
It seems clear to me that the newly named will spend some time in briefing/training a replacement this year. Walters is literally the ONLY administrator in this district who knows anything at all about IB. This much was stated by IB observers a couple of years ago during their walk through of the school. Central office knows absolutely nothing..and that includes Lane...much to the chagrin of the IB people. So you would think this year will have him teaching a replacement.
In many ways, the same goes for Friez at Dice. Recent history has shown that the principals who have gone there cold have managed to infuriate just about everyone in the Allderdice community.
This will be a transition year, and you have to think the new assistants will move on to central office next year.

It's also clear to me that while Gates has been shown to be a failure in Colorado and Florida, and while the entire rating teachers notion--long the lines of RISE---has been trashed in DC (is Michelle Rhee even in education anymore?)---this leadership would rather go down with the ship than admit complete and total failure. This is the reason for so many notations about distinguished teachers and it will propel administration during its negotiations with the PFT as it attempts to portray the entire process as being a team effort that has helped our kids.


One look at the board minutes and at all of the terminations/forced resignations over the past two years in particular should make it clear what RISE has been used for in this district: a method in which to cut costs.

Even though $26 million was "found" it is clear to me that Lane will not let go of this option easily, especially since she has been rebuffed in her efforts to end seniority.

it's clear that Lane needs to go. It's clear that she is out of touch with her charge: the achievement of Pittsburgh students in relationship with the needs of the real world. But it's just as clear that like a third world country that is run by maniacs. this is a situation in which Lane's inner circle are just as out of touch.

Shame. The kids lose again.

Anonymous said...

Where is the money for the equity office coming from? We need these things made public. Are city tax payers paying for these positions or is the money coming from gates?

Anonymous said...

What recourse or rights do taxpayers have to call for the resignation of a superintendent? Does anyone with knowledge of maybe labor law or tax law know anything about this? Are there precedents for it?

I wholeheartedly agree with you 7:00 a.m. Lane is so far out of touch it is irreconcilable. The sheer size of the central office staff coupled with the fact that any gains in student achievement were made on the backs of teachers, paras, a a few select principals, and IN SPITE of the work of central office is a travesty.

She is a fraud with nothing in her performance history to justify the continuation of her employment. Not to mention all of the help she needs from these asst. supers to still be a failure?!

What are our rights as taxayers to call for her resignation? Please if anyone knows anything about this or is willing to fight?

I am a teacher of 11 years. I can't stand to watch this anymore! I am ready to do something drastic even if I'm putting my own butt on the line.

At this point, what is happening to our students is tantamount to abuse and Lane continues to defraud us all!

Remember during Katrina, when Kanye West came out and said "George Bush doesn't care about black people" That keeps running through my mind looking at this debacle. She does not care about black children or any other children. Only about money, protecting her CO staff at all cost, and never ever admitting any failure on her part!

Anonymous said...

The staff at the Equity office is expanding quickly.

What progress is being made and what initiatives are underway?

What are the additional costs for the Equity Office (beyond the expanding staff)"

Who is evaluating the people, process and progress of the Equity Office?

What is the total-to-date-cost of "Courageous Conversations"?

What is the cost of "We Promise" ?

How many students (beyond the five that testified at the presentation) have been impacted by We Promise? The backgrounds of those testified indicated they were not from the most disadvantaged neighborhoods or families. How many underserved, disadvantaged students has the program substantially advantaged?

There has been little progress with the State Human Relations Commission in the "Advocates" case so it was extended. Will it be extended again? What are the consequences of "no progress"?

Is there a complete summary report/evaluation for the Equity Office?

Anonymous said...

As of July 1st there will be 9 persons at PPS with title of "Superintendent" in their job description: 1) Linda Lane, 2) Connie Sims, 3) Donna Micheaux, 4) Dara Ware Allen, 5) David May-Stein, 6) Alison Huguley, 7) Kevin Bivins, 8) Wayne Walters, 9) Melissa Friez.

All have salaries in excess of $147,000 (including bonuses).

Also, there are at least 5 Executive Directors at Central Office, possibly more.

All of the above have a staff to assist them in their work in addition to many very, very highly-paid executive external Consultants.

And yet PPS is one of the lowest achieving districts in the region and in the state!

Anonymous said...


As I (a non-lawyer) see it, the only way to get rid of Lane is for the School Board to fire her. I don't believe Pennsylvania has a recall mechanism in place for this sort of thing.

And I suppose the firing can be done at any time, as long as the Board is willing to pay Lane her salary for the remainder of her contract.

So Pittsburgh taxpayers need to put pressure on the Board. That's where all the authority is. And if the Board won't respond, then people need to start organizing now to put up alternative candidates.

But sadly, I don't see any of that happening. The local media have hidden things too well.

Do you remember Lisa Jones, who ran for the Board in the last election? She was a PPS teacher. She knew just how bad things are. Jones should have won in a landslide. She lost. Very few people stepped up to help her. And the voters just didn't care.

As a side note, here's an article on how to recall a Board member (it's very difficult):

Anonymous said...

Campbell, Mark-- Chief Information Officer
So we buy IPADS and carts for some schools, some schools debate free apps vs paying and some schools have NONE--On paper it looks like reverse discrimination-- but the reality is
NO schools benefit from the piece meal use of technology--
We have no fairness in this regard

Anonymous said...

I'll try again.

Who left in Technology?

Anonymous said...

I worked at a school with a tech guy on site and he was great making sure technology worked in the building. Now i am at a school were nobody knows what to do. We wait at least a month or six weeks for anything to happen with tech problems. Pittsburgh is old school. Look at the board and leadership. No understanding about technology and the futire of our students

Anonymous said...

Mark Campbell, the Chief Information Officer of Technology, LEFT. He went to a position in Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

If we are going to assail the district, let's at least do it properly. The comment about Campbell is ridiculous, in this regard. ALL schools were given the opportunity to write what amounted to a grant request for iPads and then send it to a panel which would assess the request and make determinations as to validity of needs, etc. Making this into a favoritism situation is simply erroneous.

That said, spend any time at all watching the inner workings of board meetings and it becomes clear that there is a disconnect that Lane and her inner circle have where the children of this district is concerned. It's more about maintaining power and staying the course in a personal, philosophical sense than addressing the needs of the students. In fact, I would submit that the kids and their needs are often forgotten in favor of politics. In essence, board meetings are not that much different than watching city council or any other political body. The posturing, the pronouncements, the alignments---they all defy logic from a grassroots viewpoint. That anyone who is in a city school that is struggling with student achievement, it is almost as if the people at board meetings exist in some strange ivory tower.

Many are the times which I have marveled about what I am hearing and reading.More central office? More consultants? More cant funds that come with strings attached? Why not more books? Why not more materials? Why not more resources that allow building principals to address the needs of their student bodies with needed funding? Why not more teachers? Why not more student choice where electives are concerned? Why not better connections into the collegiate experience---that is, ensuring our kids are doing things that prepare them for college rather than watering down curriculum on one side and granting them a 50% grade on the other?

Real education would entail all of this and naturally, it would come with a completely different mindset: we don't need a huge group of people NOT in the classroom. We need to focus on bringing more people to the front lines--as that is where the fight is.

But like Roosevelt before her, Lane does not think this way. I almost fell off of my chair when she talked about her "classroom experiences" the other day. This was her way to say she understood the needs of teachers? Really?

This is the vacuum that IS central office and the school board. It is nearly impossible to come in with great dreams and a clear understanding of what the needs of students are and then maintain it on Bellefield Avenue. You're beaten down by politics, back room wheeling and dealing and keeping up political appearances.

This is not an educational force that works for any entity other than itself, my friends. It's not about the students, teachers or families in Pittsburgh, and yes, it could be done so much better.

Anonymous said...

This may need a different post but it seems like Gates reform can be stopped by teachers

Teachers refused to give the test in Seattke. I have had this discussion with many colleagues. "What would happen if we ALL refused to give the tests?" Or better yet "Why don't we ALL refuse to participate in RISE?"

Wish the PFT would support something like this. We could do it though. Every teacher in the district could not easily be fired & replaced and the board knows it. The problem is the board thinks the union is a joke because they'll never strike.

But our teachers and students are no joke. We need to stand together and accomplish something like this!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 2:36-- so far teachers and parents made enough noise to stop or at least delay TFA, and the changing of PE-- at least so far. It seems that when she feels STRONG push back,she folds (or hides and licks her wounds to fight again.)
So teachers, parents, and yinzers ;) who are on this list, manage to make some noise--
I think Diane R is keeping an eye on Pittsburgh--if things like seniority die-- there really is NO union...(not that there is alot now)

Anonymous said...

Annon 2:36, keep on wishing. The pft would never support this. They think they know what is best for you weather you like it or not. When was the last time they really did anything for teachers besides collect dues? They lost their focus on representing the teachers a long time ago. While it is true they could not fire them all, what teacher wants to be the first? PPS and pft knows that most teachers are like blind sheep. They follow the leader. The past elections have shown that we don't care enough to make a change, even for our own betterment. Instead, we are a divided, conquered sorry bunch. Refuse to give the test... that would be the day.
I am sorry for my brash comments and the hurt they may cause. Sometimes the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

City of Pittsburgh tax payers need to stand up and be counted. If you live in the City, you have a voice. Use it to see that money is spent responsibly. Enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

One of the things which has always struck me as humorous with the PFT is the lack of foresight that has gone on under the past two presidents. It is true that the union fought for and won many rights and benefits for teachers over the course of three decades, and it is just as true that inexplicably, the union gave a great deal of those rights and benefits back to the district in acts of amazing short-sighted folly.

The question remains: once the genie is out of the bottle, how do you get him back inside? That s, once you have given your power away--as the PFT has--why would your adversary, PPS--ever wish to give it back?

One look at a union book of contractual rights from let's say the mid 1980's and one from the most recent negotiations and it is resoundingly clear. You don't even have to read it. The size alone is shocking: the book is less than half of what it is. We older veterans already understand about what we had and what we do not. We also understand that in a monetary sense, we have lost money over the past three contracts that did not even provide a cost of living increase, while younger teachers have lost even more---with not so much as a raise of any kind.

Now, "raises" are tied to evaluations (RISE). The power of raises and having gainful employment to begin with lies in the hands of administrators who have their marching orders from central administration. Not only are countless teachers being forced to resign or terminated, they are marching in place financially and continually brow beaten by intimidation tactics that come from the top.

And let's be truthful, the PFT is powerless to do anything...except strike, which "leadership" refuses to even contemplate.

You talk about bullying. There is no bigger bully than central office. And we deserve it, because we gave the farm away.

Average teachers who know that this is all a facade are not the problem. Walk out? Refuse to adhere to curricula or engage in various RISE/CBA tests?

You'll walk alone, or with easily targeted numbers. PFT types will pacify you with mistruths, your colleagues will look at you like your crazy.

Beaten down. This is the story of rank and file PFT teachers. Defeated, with no recourse and no hope. Yeah, third of us are kool aid drinkers who believe in Nina, RISE, the district's PR and the like, and the rest of us are beaten down and look at the PFT as most people look at fairy tales.